Legislation awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's approval tries to curb stolen metal trade
For metal thieves in Florida, targets are everywhere.
They've hit homes, businesses, churches, construction sites, utilities, telephone companies and storage lots. They've ripped out copper wiring, dismantled air conditioning units and illegally scrapped manhole covers, stop signs, interstate guardrails, park benches, railroad ties and chain-link fences.
Now authorities hope they will get a new weapon in the battle against the surging thefts.
Two bills awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's signature would make it harder for people to sell stolen metals to recyclers, stopping a crime that can mean huge losses for property owners, advocates say.
"It's just hurt too many people — both in the pocketbook and with their loved ones," said Keyna Cory, a coordinator for Floridians for Copper and Metal Crime Prevention, which supported the legislation. "We think this is what we need to stop this crime."
The primary bill (HB 885/SB 540) creates statewide standards and a database for recording information about metal sales. It also increases penalties for metal theft and establishes a list of metals that can't be resold without proof of ownership.
"Why steal it if I can't sell it someplace?" asked Cory.